The last thing you want to do when you’re feeling sick is sing. But what if it is critical to your survival?

The common cold and the flu are just two respiratory diseases that can significantly affect our voices. According to Declan Costello, a specialist laryngologist at Wexham Park Hospital in the UK, singing when sick is often safe. Even if a singer feels differently, blocked sinuses or a sore throat are unlikely to damage their ability to sing. It is important to avoid singing for amateur performers to stop the infection from spreading. Hoarseness, a sore throat, and coughing can all be symptoms of laryngitis, an inflammation of the voice box brought on by viral infections. Singers are encouraged to rest their voice and avoid performing while they have laryngitis. Laryngitis’ primary warning signals include vocal tiredness and difficulties speaking or singing. Laryngitis is not always painful, and singers should rest their voice before discomfort sets in, says assistant professor Deirdre Michael. Hoarseness is sometimes the first indicator that your vocal cords are having trouble.

The best course of action is to refrain from singing if you have laryngitis, vocal exhaustion, or hoarseness, as well as if you have a cold or the flu. If you are a professional singer, it is critical to pay attention to your voice and rest when necessary to avoid future vocal cord damage.